Marcus Hopper, a 12th grader at West End Secondary School and a speaker at our upcoming Gala, interviewed one of our honorees and panelists Gregory Worrell, Senior Consultant: Education at Scholastic Incorporated. The following is excerpted from their conversation.
Greg Worrell will join Chancellor David Banks and NYC Outward Bound Schools CEO Vanessa Rodriguez for a full panel discussion at the Gala on May 24, moderated by Marcus.
Q: What is your biggest motivator for working in the field of education?
A: I would say you, Marcus. When I see you, I reflect upon the “why” for me. I’ve always wanted to see young people who have the kind of self-confidence to be able to overcome obstacles and do what’s necessary in order to achieve and lead. That was always the starting point for me — how do we find ways to build more young people that carry the kind of confidence, self-esteem, certainty and willingness to push hard in order to achieve and grow?
Q: What was it like to work at Scholastic?
A: The thing I love most about Scholastic — and still love about my association with it — is that, almost everyone, gets a warm feeling about what the company has done and meant in their own lives, in terms of reinforcing the importance of reading and literacy. I always loved Scholastic because we talked about — and still talk about — “doing well by doing good.” Those two things go together in a way that’s unique, that ensures that our business is more than just a business, and that as we work we are giving back in a positive way to make a positive difference in society. That’s what I love most about it.
Q: What is one core value that you took away from your time working at Scholastic?
A: I think the most important thing that I’ve learned throughout my years at Scholastic is the power of story — through own experiences, what we’ve observed and seen, or a story that’s been told to us by the media. What’s the story that you’re being told right now? And what do you do about it? How do you fit in? How do you make it better?
And this is why I’m so thrilled about having this opportunity with NYC Outward Bound Schools. Because as I listen to you, Marcus, and reflect on my visit to WHEELS, [an NYC Outward Bound School in Washington Heights], so much of the work your organization is doing is about the power of story. NYC Outward Bound Schools is finding ways to tell young people to rewrite their own narrative. Don’t let anybody tell you who you are or what you can be.
Q: What are some of your hopes for the future of education?
A: I would love to see — I think what we’d all want to see is — equity and opportunity. I think about my own experience with my kids, and those I know who are fortunate to be surrounded by adults who had the resources and capacity to make a difference, as opposed to folks who didn’t have the same kind of opportunity, who might’ve had to struggle and are still struggling. I would love to see a societal commitment that is really focused on ensuring that every child has the opportunity to advance more and grow, become their full selves, and live up to their full potential.